Computing Community Consortium Blog

The goal of the Computing Community Consortium (CCC) is to catalyze the computing research community to debate longer range, more audacious research challenges; to build consensus around research visions; to evolve the most promising visions toward clearly defined initiatives; and to work with the funding organizations to move challenges and visions toward funding initiatives. The purpose of this blog is to provide a more immediate, online mechanism for dissemination of visioning concepts and community discussion/debate about them.

Addressing Privacy Issues at Davos

February 12th, 2015 / in policy, research horizons, Research News, workshop reports / by Shar Steed

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Recently, the world’s top leaders and thinkers gathered for the World Economic Forum’s annual conference in Davos, Switzerland. In addition to the great variety of world issues discussed, there were a few discussions on how technology is impacting the economy, laws, and society.

Margo Seltzer, a CRA Board Member, traveled to Switzerland for the conference and participated in a panel discussion, “New Cyber World Order,” organized by Harvard University. Since then, the discussion has attracted a lot of attention. While articles in  Digital Journal  and Daily Mail led with the dramatic headline, “Privacy is dead,” Seltzer emphasized to me that the main points conveyed during the session were more practical. Today we share an increasing amount of our personal data with technologies intended to make our life more convenient, and by doing so we are give up some of our privacy in exchange. During the panel discussion, Seltzer vocalized the need to begin developing policies and increasing regulations to help address these rising privacy concerns.

Her points in the discussion were best summarized in a TechCrunch article:

The point is, she later told TechCrunch, we are already at a privacy-eroding tipping point — even with current gen digital technologies. Let alone anything so futuristic as robotic mosquitos.


“The high order message is that we don’t need pervasive sensor net technologies for this to be true. We merely have to use technologies that exist today: credit cards, debit card, the web, roads, highway transceivers, email, social networks, etc. We leave an enormous digital trail,” she added.


Seltzer was also not in fact arguing for giving up on privacy — even if the Mail’s article reads that way. But rather for the importance of regulating data and data usage, rather than trying to outlaw particular technologies.

The Computing Community Consortium (CCC) has also identified the need for a broader research vision that frames and explores the problem at the conceptual, engineering, design, operational, and organizational levels and is sponsoring a series of four workshops aimed at identifying a shared research vision to support the practice of privacy-by-design. The first workshop in the series, “State of Research and Practice,” was held February 5-6, 2015 in Berkeley, CA, led by Deirdre Mulligan. Click here for more information.

Addressing Privacy Issues at Davos

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